Sunday, August 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Top Congress leaders to attend Payal conference
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Senior Congress leaders may target the Union Government for not conferring Bharat Ratna upon late Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh at a political conference being organised at his native village Kotli, near Payal, tomorrow, to mark his death anniversary.

The Congress government has already declared it as a state function as several senior party leaders, including Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, Mr Ahmed Patel and Mrs Ambika Soni besides the state leaders, including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, are expected to address the conference.

The presence of top leadership at tomorrow’s rally is also a part of the new strategy of the Congress high command to reach out to people at the grassroots level. Senior leaders, including Mrs Mohsina Kidwai and Mrs Ambika Soni, have been in Punjab during the past few days visiting different areas as part of the build-up programme for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Though Central leaders have been coming almost regularly for the death anniversary conferences, but they missed out last time.

In an endeavour to tackle dissension and bring unity in the Punjab Congress as well as the Congress Legislature Party, tomorrow’s conference is being taken seriously by the party high command.

The Punjab Congressmen had been demanding that since Mr Beant Singh was the only Chief Minister to be assassinated by militants, he should be honoured posthumously with Bharat Ratna in recognition of his fight against secessionist and anti-national forces. His contribution to national unity, they feel, deserved no less than country’s highest award.

Some of the loyalists of Beant Singh family are sore with both the Union Government and the state government for not honouring any of their commitments made to his family after he made the supreme sacrifice.

The state government had announced the status of a Cabinet Minister to his widow. But this too remained on paper only.

Mr Beant Singh’s eldest son is a Transport Minister in the Punjab Council of Ministers and his daughter, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur is an MLA. She was also nominated Chairperson of a public sector undertaking.

Naming of his native village, road leading to his village and an educational institution after him had remained promises only.

Mr Gurkirat Singh, a grandson of Mr Beant Singh, is also in the run for the Presidentship of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress Committee.

A function will also be held at the Sector 42 Beant Singh Memorial here where the Chief Minister and other senior leaders of the Punjab Congress will offer their floral tributes tomorrow morning.


Internal autonomy must for growth, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 30
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that the recommendations made in the Sarkaria Commission report for giving more rights to the states were not enough as only “internal autonomy” could initiate development in the states.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend a social function, said his party had been demanding for the past many years that the Centre should keep the departments pertaining to defence, foreign affairs, communication, railway and currency with it and all other departments should be given to the states so that these could manage the things according to their situation and needs.

He welcomed the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, that Article 356 would be used in any state as the last resort and the reasons for using the same would be made public.

Mr Badal alleged that present government in Punjab led by Capt Amarinder Singh was pursuing a one-point programme to harass Akalis on one pretext or the other. He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh did not have any programme for the development of the state.

He said his party had prepared itself to take Capt Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleagues to task in the coming Assembly session. He said the party would decide whether-no-confidence motion should be brought against Capt Amarinder Singh in the Assembly session.

About the latest political developments in Uttar Pradesh, he said as a number of discrepancies had come up in the democratic system of country in the past, the time had come when a open debate should be held for making a consensus to adopt Presidential from of government on American pattern.

He asserted that SAD (B) would oppose the linking of rivers as the Centre had initiated a move in this connection.


Forest scandal: Bureau rules out any
criminal action
Sarbjit Dhaliwal And Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Mirzapur village forest “ scandal”, that led to the sacking of Mr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Forests, is heading towards an interesting anti-climax. Besides, the removal of the Minister, a senior IAS officers was also suspended in this scandal.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau said nothing “ criminal” had been found against the sacked Minister in the scandal. However, a number of irregularities and lapses at various levels have come to light during the investigations. “ The lapses are of the nature which, by and large, can be taken care of by initiating action against the officials concerned at the departmental level for violation of rules of the forest manual”, said the sources.

The Bureau, which was asked by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to inquire into the scandal, has completed the inquiry. The Bureau questioned a number of senior IAS officers, contractors and forest officers and also the sacked Minister during the course of the inquiry.

Though no one has been “ exonerated’’ as such in the inquiry but any major criminal action is ruled out except in case of a few officers of the Forest Department, who did not take appropriate action following the wreckless illegal felling by contractors led by Mr Lachhman Singh,” sources maintain.

Mr Harbans Lal has been held “ guilty” of ordering the extension, which was never implemented as the officers did not issue the permit for felling the trees. No financial loss either to the State or to the private owners of the forest was caused as felling did not take place.

Mr Lachhman Singh had claimed that about 26,000 trees remained to be felled. However, counting of the trees was got done by the State Government following a court directive to pass a speaking order in this connection. A three-member Committee of the Forest Officers submitted the report that there were about 7200 extractable trees of khair in the forest. Contrary to this report, another senior officer of the Forest Department had submitted the report that no tree was available for felling.

This was the moot point which was made the operative part of the inquiry that led to the sacking of the Minister for giving extension for felling the trees when there were no tree available for felling. Though another report of the same Department said that trees were there for felling. Mr Harbans Lal was sacked on July 6 by the Chief Minister on the basis of the report of the Principal Secretary of the Forest Department, Mr P. Ram.

Earlier, Mr Lachhman Singh was allowed felling of the trees for three months from January 1, 2001 to March 31. However, after the period lapsed Mr Lachhman Singh claimed that he was unable to cut all the trees and sought extension first from the department and later from the Minister.

However, the Forest Department’s officials have failed to satisfy the Vigilance Bureau as to why Mr Lachhman Singh and his partners were not declared “ defaulters” though a strong damage report was registered against him and others for wreckless illegal felling.

The department, according to Bureau sources, was required to get the prosecution proceeding initiated against them earlier in 2001 for “ illegal” felling of trees at Mirzapur but were let off after charging the penalty. Even the department took the decision to charge penalty unilaterly. If Mr Lachhman Singh and others had been declared “ defaulters” at that time, then the question of giving extension by the sacked Minister for felling the trees would have never arisen. The Forest Department has reportedly told the Bureau that the prosecution was not ordered because it was a private forest in case of which the Forest Act and other rules and regulations were not applicable.

However, Bureau officials said the Forest Act and other rules and regulation were applicable in case of illegal felling at Mirzapur. Since there are no rules and regulations in place for private forests in the state, these are covered under the Official Forest Act and rules and regulations therein, they assert.

Bureau source say Mr Lachhman Singh got prepared a number of fake power attorneys to buy rights of share holders in the forest to cut trees. At least four women have complained that they did not put their thumb impressions on attorney concerned. Mr Lachhman Singh and others may be booked in a criminal case for allegedly preparing these documents along with certain officers of the forest department, who did not verify the authenticity of such documents.

The Bureau says the though penalty was charged by the Forest Department from Mr Lachhman Singh and others for illegal felling but owners of such trees were never compensated by the Department. It was a private forest and trees belonged to private persons. Because of the illegal felling they had suffered the loss but they were never compensated by the Forest Department. In fact, action against the contractors should have been taken by making the owners, whose trees were felled illegally, a party.

The Bureau has reportedly reached the conclusion that the contractor kept most of the share holders in the dark while preparing their fake power of attorneys. Before allowing the felling of the trees on the basis of power of attorneys, the Forest Department Officers concerned should have verified from share holders that whether they had really sold the rights to fell the trees to the contractors, says the Bureau.

Another point that has been raised during the course of inquiry is that in the case of illegal felling in Nurpur bedi private forest, the Forest Department calculated a loss to the state worth Rs 9125 crore because of the illegal felling though no such cost was calculated in case of Mirzapur felling.


Jathedar of Patna Sahib to attend clergy meeting
Varinder Walia

Amritsar, August 30
Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib have made peace with Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and decided to attend the crucial meeting of the Sikh clergy proposed to be held here on September 4. It will be first time after Operation Bluestar that Jathedars from outstations would attend the meeting of Akal Takht.

Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Patna Sahib, had adopted a path of confrontation with Jathedar Akal Takht after declaring Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, a former President of Gurdwara Takht Patna Sahib as ‘tankhaiya’. Guilty of religious misconduct). He had earlier refused to attend any meeting of Sikh high priests on this issue. Talking to The Tribune from Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh said that he, along with Giani Rattan Singh, Deputy Jathedar of Takht Hazoor Sahib, would attend the proposed meeting.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities had prevailed upon Giani Iqbal Singh to participate in the meeting being convened at Akal Takht secretariat in the larger interests of the Sikh Panth.

However, it was decided not to take up the case of Mr Romana in the forthcoming so that Jathedars of Patna Sahib or Hazoor Sahib should not feel uncomfortable during the proceedings. It was also decided not to touch the issue of Dasam Granth or Nanakshahi Calendar and other controversial issues at the meeting.

According to sources the proposed meeting was likely to take stern action against Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, Mr Hardev Singh Shergill and Mr Sarbjot Singh Jawadi who had been supporting the excommunicated Sikh scholar, Mr Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana. The Sikh high priests had directed the Sikh Panth not to have any relation with Mr Kala Afghana, who had been indicted for violating the directives of Akal Takht. The proposed meeting was likely to take strict action of the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib in certain temples.


SGPC plea on procession from Pak gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has urged Pakistan and India to allow the taking out of a religious procession from Gurdwara Kartarpur in Pakistan to mark the fourth centenary of Guru Angad Dev in April next.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, said simultaneous nagar kirtans were being arranged from Gurdwara Kartarpur and Gurdwara Serai Naga in Muktsar district, the birthplace of Guru Arjan Dev.

Meanwhile, the SGPC took serious view of the debate on an excommunicated Sikh, Mr Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana, and ‘Dasam Granth’ by a television channel.

In a letter to the managing director of the television channel, Mr Calcutta said discussions or debates on such sensitive religious matters were bound to spread disinformation on important Sikh institutions like ‘hukamnama’ or Akal Takht.


Bhullar withdraws demand for Sham
Singh’s removal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
Vishaw Bhai Mardana Yadagri Kirtan Darbar Society chief Harpal Singh Bhullar today withdrew the demand for removal of Mr Sham Singh as Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) after getting his clarification that he had not uttered any word at the time of the retreat ceremony at Husaniwala joint checkpost which could hurt anybody in India.


Students refuse to vacate campus
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The Punjabi University authorities today locked all hostels to force the agitating students to leave the campus but later allowed the girl students to stay at Waris Bhavan guest house on the campus. The girls, however, refused the offer, following which the varsity has decided to post women wardens and other staff in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

Earlier, around 200 students refused to leave the campus. Some politicians also entered the university today with senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra getting “langar” for the students in the afternoon and CPM leader Chand Singh Chopra visiting them in the evening.

The university campus has become a police garrison with mounted police personnel, commandos and Punjab policemen manning the main gates, hostels and the office of the Vice-Chancellor.

First of all, the hostel students were asked through announcements to pack their bags and leave the hostel immediately. The university provided buses with police guards to take the students to the local bus stand. While a large number of students left the hostels, those who decided to join a dharna in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor found out later that the hostel gates had been locked and they were left without any possessions.

The student leaders held a rally in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office and also announced their decision to stay on the university campus. In the afternoon, senior Akali leader and MP Prem Singh Chandumajra visited the students along with former legislator Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur. The Akali leader also arranged “langar” for the students. He tried to talk to the Vice-Chancellor but was not successful. In the evening, CPM leader Chand Singh Chopra visited the campus and expressed his solidarity with the students.

Later, the university administration decided to open the Waris Bhavan so that the girls could stay their for the night. The university spokesman, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, said the university had also offered to send the girls to their home on university buses but they had rejected the offers. He said following this, the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, directed women wardens and other staff to be posted in front of his office to look after the girls.

Student leader Raminder Singh Patiala said the Students Confederation had appealed to the Punjab Human Rights Commission to intervene into the matter and stop the university authorities from snatching their fundamental rights. He said a delegation of students had also met Public Works Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa and appealed to him to present their case to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and local MP Preneet Kaur.

“The local police has rounded up 12 boys who it claimed were “outsiders”. Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal said the 12 “out-siders” had been detained for questioning. However, details of those who had been rounded up were not available.


SRI varsity students left in the lurch
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
Hundreds of students in the city who have taken admission in B.Ed. in Study Centres of Sri Rawatpura Sarkar International University (SRI), Chattisgarh, have been left in the lurch. They may not be eligible for the coveted government jobs as the university had not sought the approval of the National Council for Teaching Education (NCTE) before starting the degree.

At least three institutes in the city have enrolled students for B.Ed from SRI University. One of the Study Centre claims it had told students that the university was not recognised by the NCTE.

Students of the Study Centre in Gurbaksh Nagar today alleged that they had not been informed at the time of admission that they would not be able to apply for a government job after completing their degree. They said at the time of admissions, they were told that the university degrees would be able to get them government jobs. They said they were shocked to learn that, in fact, this was not the case and that the university would not be able to get approval for the course from the NCTE during the current academic session.

Most students are girls, many of whom are married. The girl students said they had been told at the time of admissions that SRI University would be able to get NCTE approval for the Study Centres during this current academic year itself. “If we had been told otherwise, as many as 180 students would not have spent Rs 20,000 as fee for the course”, they explained.

Mr Harmanpreet Singh, Coordinator of the Study Centre, when contacted, claimed that he had told the students that NCTE approval was yet to be taken.

NCTE Vice-Chairman Prof R.S. Khan told TNS on the phone that the students would not be eligible for government jobs until NCTE approval.

He said the process of approval took time with the council inspecting facilities where the courses were being run. Approval was given only after the NCTE was satisfied with the facilities being offered.

At present, only one of the Study Centres is a full-fledged institute while the others have a number of courses running in their premises. SRI University, while giving them approval to start B.Ed. courses, did not bother much to conduct checks on the facilities available at the centres.

The university has now issued letters to the Study Centres for the necessary facilities for NCTE approval.

The university is apparently adopting a two-pronged strategy. While it claims it will go in for NCTE approval, it also says it is not necessary to seek affiliation from the NCTE. SRI University State Nodal Centre Coordinator Dhanwant Singh, when contacted, in Amritsar said the B.Ed. course being offered was an “exclusive” course and there was no need for prior approval.


Cong-ruled states being discriminated
against: Ambika
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 30
Ms Ambika Soni, General Secretary, All-India Congress Committee, today criticised the NDA government for its discrimination against Congress-ruled states. Addressing a press conference here, she said the NDA government did not provide monetary help and foodgrain to drought-hit states ruled by the Congress.

Referring to the formation of the Mulayan Singh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh, she said the Congress was against the dissolution of the Assembly. The people were also not in favour of a mid-term poll, she added. Ms Sonia Gandhi would make the final decision on whether the Congress would join the government or not, she asserted.

Ms Ambika Soni said the Congress was educating and preparing its workers to face the new challenges and to make the country strong, secular and prosperous. She denied that there was any groupism at the national or state level within the Congress.

She later addressed a district Congress workers’ convention.


Panel member for school of Guru Nanak teachings
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
“Punjabi youths need not to go to Bangalore or Hyderabad but opportunities should be created in the state itself”, these words were spoken by a Planning Commission member chairman of the core committee on the development report of Punjab, Dr K. Venkatasubramanian.

He was here today to inaugurate the proceedings of two-day “Punjab Development Report: Presentation and Discussion” organised by the Center of Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, in collaboration with Guru Nanak Dev University.

Agreeing that Punjab needs special attention for being a border state, Dr Venkatasubramanian pledged to support any effort to create opportunities in the state. He stressed on the need to open more and more educational institutions in the rural areas. He mooted the idea of opening a school of Guru Nanak’s teachings. He said all out efforts must be made to provide drinking water to people of the rural areas.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr S.P. Singh, welcomed the guests.


Mohindra Kothi to house habitat centre
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, August 27
The Patiala Development Authority (PDA) has decided to establish a habitat centre at the historic Mohindra Kothi, Mall road, which houses the Public Works Department head office. The centre will be on the pattern of the Indian Habitat Centre.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the PDA that was presided over by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. This decision puts at rest speculation about the future of the historic building after it is vacated by the Public Works Department that will be shifted to the new Mini Secretariat on the Jail road.

The centre will add to the infrastructure of the city. It will have restaurants, an auditorium, a banquet hall, educational and research facilities for the benefit of the general public. It will also have ample space for commercial establishments, including sites for offices, shops, and facilities for holding conferences.

It will help to create a confluence of various professional and educational bodies, besides NGOs dealing in habitat, environment, ecology and rural development thereby facilitating joint research and synergistic interaction. The project will be jointly carried out by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) and HUDCO.

However, these arguments do not carry conviction with the PWD employees, who have been steadfastly resisting all attempts to be shifted to the new complex for the past about two months. They are of the opinion that more than 12 other offices, which have not been shifted to the Mini Secretariat and are allegedly housed in ‘unsafe’ rented buildings, should be the ones to be shifted to the new complex.

Almost all offices of the district administration have been shifted to the new Mini Secretariat complex on the Central Jail road. The spokesperson for the Punjab PWD (B&R) Employees Coordination Committee, Mr Darshan Singh Labana, who is spearheading the protests by employees, said the employees were enjoying better facilities in Mohindra Kothi than they would get in the new complex. He said the protest and rallies would continue and the employees had no plans to shift elsewhere. He described the decision as a ‘ploy’ of the state government to ‘grab’ a chunk of ‘prime’ land in the heart of the city.

However, a visit to the Mini Secretariat reveals that the new complex has impressive exteriors and interiors. The complex has bigger air-cooled rooms for the office and more space for the clerical staff. Besides, proper seating arrangement for the staff, the complex has ample parking space, a cafeteria and lifts.


Farmers refuse relief, to approach court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The proposed multi-crore Baran township on 330 acres on the Sirhind road a few kilometres from the city may run into trouble with a group of farmers and industrialists running units on the acquired land refusing to accept the compensation offered by the government and taking their case to court.

The factory owners and farmers, who number 27, have got a stay from the court and are determined not to give their land to the government for establishing the Integrated Township which envisages separate commercial, Agro and Information Technology areas.

They claim that the government has decided the case for acquiring the land unilaterally and not cared to entertain the objections filed by them.

Addressing a press conference here, the farmers and industrialists said the government could easily take the project 2 km further from the city where panchayati land was available at a lesser cost instead of acquiring prime land and displacing of families.

They said if at all they were to be vacated from the land, they must be given due compensation. The present compensation was “ridiculous”.

Mr Gurdev Singh, who runs a bio mass bricket manufacturing unit in the area, which has been acquired, said the government had resorted to a pick and choose policy. A unit adjoining his unit had been spared while his land had been acquired. Abhinandan K Jain, who runs a cattle feed manufacturing unit, said the government had left out several godowns close to his unit without assigning any reason. He alleged this had happened due to “extraneous factors”.

The factory owners said it was strange that the government wanted to establish industry at the site but was uprooting the industry which was already operating there. He said this was happening despite the fact that they had taken the required permission. He said government officials had visited the spot earlier and were shown that the units were running and conformed to norms.


Lehangas” are the in thing
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, August 30
The traditional “lehanga”, once exclusively the attire of the bride, has caught everyone’s fancy.

From bright magentas, oranges and reds for the bride, lehangas are now available in more sobre colours. This has more or less made it the dress in demand for formal functions.

Narinder Pal of Suhag Emporium says lehangas are now available for everyone with manufacturers catering to the discerning few as well as the less privileged. The range is available from Rs 8,000 to Rs 60,000 and more according to the quality of the embroidery. The embroidery may include gold threads. Lehangas are also available on rent which means those who cannot afford to buy them can wear them at their formal functions.

Shopkeeper say the lehanga continues to remain in demand, even as other traditional dresses came and go. This, they say, is because of varied embroidery options as well as different cuts. “Antique”, “mirror” and “gota” are much in demand. He says the colours opted by brides include beige, sky blue and even white.

Harjeet Kaur, who runs a boutique in Ajit Nagar, says people are now choosing boutiques to purchase ‘’lehangas”. This is because of experiments being done by various boutique owners in traditional attires. The lehanga has undergone a sea change with several cuts to give shape to the body.

Another boutique owner, Ritika Goel of Model Town, says she has started making lehangas on order. Experimentation is being done on traditional outfit. The dress material has also undergone a change with some NRIs preferring lehangas in net with heavy embroidery.

Right now shopkeepers in the traditional Adalat Bazar and well as boutique owners are preparing for the start of the marriage season when real buying starts. Shopkeepers get their lehangas from places as far off as Kolkota, Jaipur and Farukkhabad. The buying starts during ‘’navratras’’ in September-end and continues till February.

Lehangas now also come with matching costume jewellery and sandals. Artificial gems are designed to compliment the colour of the dress.


Fatehgarh Sahib tops in tree plantation
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 30
The Centre has sanctioned a pilot project worth Rs 208.36 lakh under the National Afforestation Programme Scheme for the district.

An instalment of Rs 36.63 lakh has already been released to the department, said Mr P. Ram, Financial Commissioner (Forest), while addressing a meeting of district officials, NGOs and other organisations, engaged in tree plantation drive here today. He had come here to motivate the NGOs and other Government departments to actively participate in the tree plantation drive to make Punjab green.

He said the district had topped in the state by achieving a record plantation of 3 lakh. The government has ordered to make it mandatory that all village panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads would spend 5 per cent of their income and municipal councils, corporations, co-operative institutions 1 per cent of their total budget on tree plantation drive. The Forest Department was providing saplings subsidised rates of 50 paise under the farm forestry scheme in the state.

He said directions had been issued to ensure that every village panchayat, co-operative institutions, gurdwaras, temples should have nurseries of medical and fruit trees. He said religious leaders particularly the “babas of deras can play an important role in motivating the people to plant trees and these Babas would be urged to distribute the “parshad” of plants to the devotees.


Only 8 per cent land in Punjab under forests
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, August 30
Only eight per cent of the land in Punjab is under forests, which is far below the target of 33 per cent laid down by the United Nations Organisations to keep the environment clean.

This was stated by Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Minister for Forests, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here today. Mr Bajwa had come as a chief guest at a blood donation camp organised by Panj Dariya Sabhyacharak Manch here today.

As many as 158 persons donated blood.

The minister said the government had carried out plantation on 8 per cent of the land area while on the remaining 2 per cent, plantation had been done by private organisations.

He said the government target was to plant one crore saplings in Punjab and 70 per cent of the target had been achieved. The government was persuading private bodies and NGO’s to plant more saplings in order to improve environment.

He said Japan had given Rs 85 crore, which was to be spent on the area falling under the Shivalik hills. Japan had given directions that only those saplings should be planted that had natural growth. A part of the among could also be spent on developing the area.

Asked why trees were drying up in many parts of the state, the minister said atmospheric changes and disturbances in the underground water table were adversely affecting the trees. Some research work was on at Dehra Dun to find out the reasons for the same.

He said the Department of Forests could not give permission to cut even trees that had been dried up. The department could only prepare a case in this regard and send it to Delhi from where the permission had to come.

Mr S.S. Bhatti, District Forest Officer, Ropar, said more than seven lakh saplings were being planted in the district. A number of medicinal saplings had been planted in Ropar town.

Mr Bajwa, who is also Minister of State for Social Security, said banks were harassing people while disbursing pensions. The government was trying to work out a way of sending the pension direct to the persons concerned. The plan would be carried out on an experiment basis in one or two blocks.

The government was thinking of using the services of patwaris, panchayat secretaries and teachers in this regard.


Ten samples of spurious drugs sent for test
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 30
To streamline the sale of medicines and to check the sale of spurious drugs in the district, Mr Amit Duggal, District Drug Inspector, Sangrur, collected 10 samples of the spurious medicines like Diazepam, from chemist shops at Malerkotla on Thursday afternoon.

Talking to TNS today, Mr Duggal said all samples had been sent to the government analyst, Punjab, in Chandigarh on the next day for analysis. He further said after the receipt further proceedings would be initiated.

Mr Duggal said on receiving information that samples were being collected, about 30 chemist shops were immediately closed by their owners. He said proceedings would be initiated against such shopkeepers as they had intentionally closed the shops.

A few months ago, the District Drug Inspector had issued notices to owners of 32 medicine shops of Sunam and Longowal for allegedly closing their shops intentionally to avoid the inspection by a team of drug inspectors.


Government asks SDMs to sign weapon
inspection notes
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 30
Keeping in view the inconvenience caused to the people who had to travel long distances to get their weapons inspected for the renewal of their arms licenses, the Punjab Government’s Department of Home Affairs has issued orders that the SDM concerned should personally inspect the weapon and sign the inspection note.

While disclosing this, Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, said the inspection note should be attached with the application and sent to the district headquarters for the renewal process, which would save the licensee from the trouble of coming to the district headquarters.

The Deputy Commissioner met the SDMs and told them that minimal time should be consumed in the entire process. Due to the ongoing CBI inquiry into the arms license scandal, which had virtually rocked the state a couple of years ago the licensees are facing lot of ordeal to get their licenses renewed. More than 27,000 arms licenses were issued by the district authorities in a span of two years, most of whom were later found to be fake.

Even some hardcore criminals operating in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were found to be possessing arms issued by the licensing authority, Ferozepore, after which the CBI was asked to unearth the conspiracy.


Consumer councils to be set up
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 30
District Consumer Councils under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners and State Consumer Councils under the chairmanship of the Minister for Consumer Affairs will be constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 to educate the common people regarding their rights.

Justice H.S. Brar, President, Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, said a notification would be soon issued to this effect. Justice Brar was here to inspect the functioning of the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. He said under the amended Act, the district forums could hear consumer matters involving an amount of Rs 20,00,000, the state commission up to Rs 1 crore and if the amount is above this , the case would be referred to the national commission. He said it was being ensured that complaints were decided within a statutory period of 90 days as prescribed under the Consumer Protection Act.

He said the matters where laboratory report was required would be decided within a period of six months from the date of filing of the complaint.


Railway mazdoor union holds dharna
Tribune News Service

Barnala, August 30
Activists of the Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union staged a dharna at the local Railway Station Complex today to express their resentment against the anti-employee policies of the Union Government. The dharna was addressed among others by Mr Naatha Ram, Divisional Organising Secretary, Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union.

The union leaders projected the five-point charter of demands urging the Union Government to accept the demands of the railway employees and redress their grievances.

Their demands include merger of dearness allowance into basic pay after its 50 per cent hike cadre-wise upgradation with effect from April 1, 2003, grade revision to Rs 3050-4590 for track man/other classes in the railway, grant of risk allowance for workshop (electrical wing) employees and demand of filling of review petition by the Union Government in the Supreme Court against the withdrawal of staff’s strike right.


Govt action on blacklist appreciated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Commenting on the removal of several names of NRI Sikhs from the blacklist, the state vice-president of the BJP, Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, MP, has described it to be a step in the right direction. This, she said, would go a long way in bringing back the Sikh youth to the mainstream.

The first list of 22 such youth was sent to Mr Bhisham Agnihotri, Indian Ambassador to the USA, to release them on August 28 at Vancouver, Canada. But the said list was quashed in Canada.

In a press note issued here today, the state office secretary of the BJP unit, Mr Raj Bhatia, has claimed that this was the outcome of a meeting held with Mr Advani in New York in June this year, at the initiative of Mr Rulda Singh, general secretary of the NRI cell of the state BJP unit.


One-child family drive launched
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 30
The National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA) today launched “One-child family” campaign to create awareness among masses, particularly those living in slums, regarding the benefits of family planning.

Speaking on the occasion, the president of district chapter of the association’s Female Forum, Dr Amita Saini, said they would cover the identified slum localities here during the year to motivate the womenfolk about safe motherhood and their duties towards the wards.

“Besides, we will distribute, condoms and contraceptive pills free of cost and motivate the families to undergo tubectomy and vasectomy,” she said.


Another day of wait for Pak prisoner’s kin

Wagah (Amritsar), August 30
The wait of members of the family of Khan Ahmad (60), who died a few days back at Bhuj in Gujarat, continued for the second consecutive day today as his body did not reach here. His body was being brought from Bhuj by a police party.

Mr Shabir Ahmad, a member of the Pakistan Embassy, who had come to receive the body, while talking to The Tribune, said the police party left Bhuj on August 27. Khan Ahmad died at a hospital at Bhuj. He had been in the Bhuj jail for the last about three years. — OC


Cops’ calls discontinued
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 30
In a piquant situation, the local police finds itself on the wrong side of the Telephone Department, for not paying the bills.

The outgoing calls of the city police station (260840), Sadar police station (260908), SP’s office (262900), SP’s official residence (260990), Satnampura police post (260600) and Rawalpindi police post (252699) have been discontinued.

In case the pending bills are not paid, the connections will be cut, the Telephone Department has threatened. The SP, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, has confirmed that the outgoing call service of the six numbers has been discontinued. He refused to say anything more on the issue.


Unsafe delivery leads to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 30
Gurcharan Kaur, (23) of the Guru Nanak Pura locality here died early this morning after an untrained midwife, Paramjit Kaur, conducted her delivery at her house last night. The police registered a case against Paramjit Kaur under section 304-A of the IPC. She had been practising in the locality for the past many years. Gurcharan Kaur was shifted to the local civil hospital as she was bleeding profusely. She died at the hospital.


Bail plea of lawyer dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Nearly six months after a lawyer was injured in the District Courts at Amritsar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the bail petition of another advocate allegedly involved in the incident.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Virender Singh of the high court has also dismissed the petition filed by two other accused in the case. The judge observed: “Keeping in view the totality of facts and circumstances, I feel that none of the petitioners deserve the concession of anticipatory bail”.

The advocate, Kultar Singh, along with his son Amarbir Singh and nephew Kewaljit Singh, were apprehending arrest in an attempt to murder case registered at Civil Lines police station on February 6 under Sections 323, 307, 395, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Arms Act.

In his complaint before the police, advocate Satnam Singh, allegedly injured in the incident, had claimed that Kultar Singh had raised a “lalkara” that the complainant should be killed as he had dared to “stand as a counsel against him”.

He had added that one Simarjit Singh had, subsequently, fired from his gun, while Amarbir Singh had attacked him with a kirpan. Another accused, Kewaljit Singh, had attacked also him with a hockey stick, he had added. Arguing before the court, Punjab’s Deputy Advocate-General Mansur Ali had contended that the victim had sustained as many as seven injuries. After the surgeon’s opinion, some of the injuries were “grievous and dangerous to life”.

Claiming to have been falsely implicated in the case, the petitioners, on the other hand, had asserted that the injury sustained by Mr Satnam Singh was simple in nature.

After hearing the arguments, the judge held: “No doubt that the part attributed to Kultar Singh was that he raised only a lalkara.... He is an advocate and it was not expected of him being a professional. As per the allegations, he has caused injuries to the complainant. He is one who had brought his relations to the court in order to assault the complainant and as such he does not deserve the concession of relief sought.... Resultantly, all the three petitions are hereby dismissed being devoid of any merit”.

No regular bail for SI

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a regular bail petition filed by Sub Inspector Nishan Singh who was also the personal security officer of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s former president Bibi Jagir Kaur in her daughter Harpreet Kaur’s alleged murder case.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the high court ruled: “Admittedly, the petitioner was the personal security officer of Bibi Jagir Kaur and was posted as a Sub Inspector in the Police Department. He used to guard the room where Harpreet Kaur was illegally confined....”

The Judge added: “The allegations against the petitioner are very serious. The co-accused, except Bibi Jagir Kaur, were released on bail due to the fact that the challan could not be filed within the requisite period. Bibi Jagir Kaur was, however, released on anticipatory bail, but there is no ground to release the petitioner on regular bail because he is likely to tamper with the evidence. Consequently his bail application is rejected”.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Nishan Singh had submitted that there was nothing in the statement of the approver, Dr Balwinder Singh Sohal, to indicate his participation in the alleged conspiracy. Arguing on the CBI’s behalf, Mr R.K. Handa had contended that he was present at the time when the alleged conspiracy was hatched.



Three get life term for murder
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 30
Mr S.S. Gupta, Sessions Judge, yesterday convicted Harbans Singh, Bhupinder Singh, alias Bhinda, and Satnam Singh, sewadars of Gurdwara Tahli Sahib, near Kalasanghia village, under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code of murdering Bhupinder Singh, alias Bari, of Blairkhanpur village. The Judge sentenced the three to life imprisonment and ordered them to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 each.

According to the prosecution, the deceased used to visit the gurdwara. On August 8, 2001, Gurmail Singh, a sewadar of the gurdwara, came to the house of the deceased and informed his father Harbhajan Singh that his son had been tied to a pillar at the gurdwara and was being beaten up by five sewadars. Mr Harbhajan Singh, along with the sarpanch of the village, rushed to the gurdwara and got his son freed. On enquiry, the sewadars said they had caught Bari stealing Rs 50 and he was being punished for this.

Later, Bari succumbed to his injuries. On the basis of the statement of Harbhajan Singh, the police arrested five sewadars of the gurdwara on the charge of beating Bhupinder Singh to death. The Judge transferred the case of the two minors accused in the case — Lehmber Singh and Tarsem Singh — to juvenile court.


Sex scandal: arrest warrants against two issued
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 30
Mr G.K. Rai, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mansa, yesterday issued bailable arrest warrants against Dr Pawan Kumar and Mr Subash Jalan, both of Budhlada, in the sex scandal in which more than 10 prominent persons of the district are facing trial.

Dr Pawan Kumar and Mr Jalan were earlier released on bail under Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code as the police had failed to present a charge sheet in the court within 90 days of their arrest. The accused were, therefore, not challaned by the police.

Both had stopped attending the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mansa, and the case was submitted to the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mansa, by the CJM.

The court yesterday summoned both accused to face the trial and issued bailable warrants of their arrest to procure their presence in the court.


Rs 20 crore to be spent on shelter for homeless
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 30
The Punjab government will spend Rs 20 crore on providing shelter and pucca houses to the homeless and people living below poverty line during the next financial year.

The government had already started a ‘‘special component scheme’’ for people belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Backward Class under which a sum of Rs 392.33 cr would be spent, said Ms Praneet Kaur, MP, here today.

This was stated by the MP while addressing a public meeting after inaugurating a sewerage system, to be laid in a part of the township. She said new water supply scheme had been chalked out to provide drinking water to the residents of the area.

For repair and patch work of main roads (6,000 km in length) of the area, Rs 10 crore would be spent. From the MP’s fund, a sum of Rs 13 crore had so far been spent on various development works in the constituency, claimed Ms Praneet Kaur.

Cheques for Rs 20,000 each to 99 families under the social welfare scheme were also granted, while Rs 30 lakh were granted to 58 panchayats under the Swa-Grameen Rojgar Yojna. Besides issuing pension documents to 125 beneficiaries of old-age pension scheme, 63 handicapped persons were also given tricycles, wheelchairs and hearing aid.

She criticised the previous Akali-BJP government for giving public unfair treatment on development issues and other public welfare schemes.

Earlier, Mr Vinod Sharma, a former Union Health Minister, lauded Capt Amarindar Singh for launching corruption eradication drive soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister of the state.

Besides party workers, Capt. RR Bhardwaj, Deputy Chairman of the State Planing Board, Mr Hardiyal Singh Kanboj, president District Congress Committee, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Additional Advocate General, Punjab, Ms Sheelam Sohi, Mr Sahabjit Singh Sandhu, Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, all members of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr MS Sidhu, SDM, Mr Balwinder Singh Brar, DSP, Mr Praminder Singh Gill, District Welfare officer, Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president Dera Bassi Municipal Council, and other prominent persons of the area were present on the occasion.


Behl promoted

Chandigarh, August 30
Mr Ramesh Behl has recently joined as Deputy Labour Commissioner, Punjab. Earlier, he had been Assistant Labour Commissioner for more than 12 years and has recently been elevated to this post. — TNS


3 held for selling motor cycles on fake papers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 30
The police has arrested three persons who had been selling motorcycles by preparing forged documents of a Ludhiana-based distributor. The motorcycles might have been stolen, it is suspected.

Sources said the police had received a complaint from the Ludhiana firm that cash memos issued to some buyers of motorcycles at Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan were fake. Certain persons had manipulated computerised bills of their own misusing the name of the complainant firm.

It is learnt that the fraud was detected when a person who had been sold a motorcycle by a Abohar-based gang tried to resell the same to a resident of Sri Ganganagar. The documents were found to be fake. The prospective buyer thereupon informed the Ludhiana-based firm as well as the police here.

Preliminary investigations have led to arrests of Satish Kumar, Sudhir Kumar and Shiv Shankar, residents of Nai Abadi, here yesterday. A case was earlier registered under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471, IPC.


Two Markfed officials in Vigilance net
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 30
Mr Suraj Bhan and Mr Varinder Kumar, Branch Manager and custodian, Markfed, Goniana branch, were arrested today by the Vigilance Bureau for their alleged involvement in failing to recover the delivery of rice from the owner of Ganesh Rice Mill, Harraipur village, of this district.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda range, in a press note issued here today said raids were being conducted to nab the owner of Ganesh Rice Mill, Mr Ashok Kumar. A case under Sections 409 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the accused.

He said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had given 20,475 bags of 50 kg each to the Ganesh Rice Mill through Markfed in 2001 for shelling. The mill returned 5540.50 quintal rice to the FCI through Markfed by shelling 11,081 bags of paddy. The Ganesh Rice Mill had to deliver 2997.73 quintal of rice to the FCI by shelling the remaining stock of paddy.

When Ganesh Rice Mill returned 1329.98 quintal of rice to the FCI through Markfed, the stock was found to be broken and was rejected. The mill owner made no delivery after that though he was bound to deliver the same by September 30, 2001.

The SSP said it was found that Mr Suraj Bhan, Mr Varinder Kumar and Mr Ashok Kumar were responsible for making the delivery of rice to the FCI through Markfed. The case is being investigated by the DSP, Mr Baljit Singh.


Protest march by students
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 30
A large number of students, including girls, of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, today took out a protest march, demanding the abolition of an admission rule, made last year by the Punjab Technical University (PTU). They also raised slogans against the Punjab Technical University authorities.

The students’ leaders said under the rule admission to the fifth semester was not possible if a student had not cleared the re-appear examination of the first semester till then. They also demanded that the PTU’s Lateral Engineering Entrance Test rules should be implemented for the SLIET.

The students’ leaders also condemned the lathicharge on women students.


Role of distance education highlighted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 30
There is a need to further strengthen the present education system by imparting quality education in the fields of para-medical sciences and management to students through the distance education mode using information technology as a tool.

This was revealed by education experts during a seminar on “Career Opportunities through Distance Education” organised by Raipur-based Dr C.V. Raman University, here yesterday.

In his inaugural address, Mr Sunil Arora, Director (Outreach), said there were about one lakh job opportunities in European Union and North America for trained para-medical staff and the potential could be explored only by imparting quality education through the distance education mode to the students who had earlier failed to join regular courses for any reasons.

He further said India was the main hub of English-speaking population and it could be a major source of educated and trained para-medical staff for these countries. The university had launched various courses under the distance education mode in Punjab through its 66 study centres.

The others who spoke included Dr Resham Singh and Dr Ratnesh Chaturvedi.


No recruitment despite vacancies
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 30
At least 50,000 persons with B.Ed degree are sore at not being recruited against the vacancies advertised in December, 2001.

The SAD-BJP government advertisd 3,311 posts of ETT teachers. According to a Punjab and Haryana High Court decision, all 1,863 eligible ETT candidates were appointed on priority basis.

At least 50,000 candidates with B.Ed degree applied along with Rs 200 as fee each. Eighteen months had passed since the selection of ETT candidates, but the process of recruitment for 1,448 posts, to be filled by persons with B.Ed degree, had not begun.

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